The Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs together with its agencies has in preparedness of the celebration of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Day briefed the press on the activities for this year’s celebration. The press conference was held at the Ministry’s conference Hall, Kingharman Road, Freetown.

In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Edward Quame Yankson told the gathering that the conference was always a precursor to the UNWTO World Tourism Day itself which he said they have been celebrating since 1980. He said the celebration will be extended to the provinces. He noted that for tourism to thrive there must be a peaceful environment hence the global theme for this year is Rethinking Tourism has been domesticated to capture our prevailing circumstances which is “the impact of conflict and violence on tourism, tourism for peace”.

Giving the rationale for the presser, the Director of Tourism, Mohamed Jalloh remarked that ahead of the UNWTO World Tourism Day on September 27, they wanted to ensure that they discuss and create awareness about the significance of the day. He continued that for this year’s celebration, member states are allowed to reflect on the challenges and harness the opportunities present. He stressed that this year’s theme is very timely as there is need for conscious sensitization for peace to thrive and create the image for a preferred tourist destination. He said the celebration will be diverse starting with the grand opening in Freetown on September 27th at Family Kingdom where panel discussions will be held that relate to the theme of the celebration.

In her remarks, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt started by reflecting where the sector was and where it is headed. She explained that Sierra Leone has a history of violence and became a smooth story in the last fifteen years through the process of democratic elections and smooth transfer of power. She told the press that peace is an element for any nation to prosper and when there is no peace tourism will suffer the most because visitors will not come to a country that is unstable. She added that they related the sub-theme to fit Sierra Leone prevailing circumstance of the impact of violence and conflict and it detrimental impact on the development of the country. She continued that the conversation for this year’s celebration will raise nationwide awareness on the importance of peace and it implications on sustainable development.

SOURCE: Information Unit, MTCA